Thursday, September 08, 2005
The Sweater Wizard in review
I bought the Sweater Wizard some years ago, when they were on Version 1. This new version 3 is miles better! Still not 100% ‘in my dreams’ perfect, but I use it pretty frequently.
I think the thing I love best about the software is that I can print it out in clear, easy to read formats (unlike my chicken-scratchings on miscellaneous paper bits) and I can reprint it whenever I’ve lost the original. Or found it chewed up under the sofa. Again. So when I’m halfway through the project and can’t remember something – it’s there.
It allows you to fully customize things like sleeve length and so forth, which can be neat. It also permits you to use any yarn for any pattern – so that weird homespun thing that knits to its own gauge and doesn’t match any other yarn in the universe, you can whip up a pattern for and have it come out right. I’ve also found that its guesstimate of yardage is pretty darned accurate…as accurate as my gauge, usually. Which can be a problem on more distracted occasions, but overall is great – it predicted I’d need 645 yards to do that sweater for Eldest, I had 660 yards, and sure enough, I think it was square on.
It permits you to place a pattern, even those ones that are of the ‘9 repeating stitches, plus 1’ type. It does not let you import them directly yet – but you can export the pattern to Word and input / import it that way.
It doesn’t help you with “funky” shaping much. Like if you’re trying to do things like use a cable to neaten a decrease edge, or anything other than your basic raglan (which I must say, it does admirably – I like to use the raglan for babies / children for freedom of movement), drop, T, or set-in sleeves.
One of the things that drives me CRAZY about it is that I often find the default sizes to be ‘not quite right’. Like, when knitting for my husband (who is a freak of nature – who else would put up with me?!) – last time I lost my mind and did so, he had a 44” chest. So you plug in a 44” chest – and it defaults to 28” back (he needs 32”) and a 32” sleeve (36” is what he prefers) (argh – Freak. Of. Nature. Mr. Organgutan Arms. Grumble grumble grumble…)
So you have to be paying attention. You have to get all the measurements and then put them all in.
Right down to the damned head opening. Yes, I’m stilling kicking myself over that one. Don’t feel sorry for me, I need the exercise.
Now that I’ve gushed about how cool Sweater Wizard is, I just downloaded the demo for Sweater Design and I think that, if something dire were to happen to my Sweater Wizard program, I’d go with this one instead. It’s cheaper, and it allows me to input the repeating pattern directions right into the pattern itself! I think I like the interface better, too…it feels less, uh, hmm…cheesy?…and it’s “only” $50, instead of the $90 for Sweater Wizard.
I’d say that the upshot is, once you get to a point where you have all those ideas in your head and no pattern to match them, the designing software is a real boon.
Of course, once you start going maverick with your own patterns, you also start collecting book after book of ‘interesting’ patterns to insert into your creations…knitting is a never-ending cycle of buying yarn, books, needles and notions, more patterns, more yarn, more needles and notions…